Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Hello From the Pacific Northwest  Toplef10Hello From the Pacific Northwest  1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Hello From the Pacific Northwest  I22gcj10Hello From the Pacific Northwest  14dhcg10

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Hello From the Pacific Northwest

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Hello From the Pacific Northwest  Empty Hello From the Pacific Northwest

Post  tappingmom 2/9/2023, 11:10 am

Hello!

I'm Tammy and live in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, right smack between the states of Washington and Oregon.  I am a bit embarrassed to say that, at 63-years-old, I have never planted a garden.  But with my husband's support, I am ready to learn and make it happen!!  

First, read Mel's All New Square Foot Gardening and decided to grow my produce via his methods.  I then purchased 6 Birdies Tall Garden Beds last year, filling the bottoms with stumps and local nursery soil.  Our winter rains have tamped down the volume, leaving me with about 12 inches to fill with Mel's Mix.

As a newbie, I have so many questions about the 1/3 Compost part of the mix.  I am scouring this forum to try to have my questions answered, but still have many.  So I'll start with this and let you fine, intelligent folks educate me...

E.B. Stone Organics makes a "composted chicken manure."
Here's the link: https://www.ebstone.org/product/chicken-manure/
It's listed under fertilizers, but it is described as a composted product, so I am assuming that it would be considered a compost.

I wrote the manufacturer and found out that it is made from flock bedding (wood shavings) and the actual chicken manure.  They said, "the chicken manure goes through a heated 'kill step' to kill any bacteria present.  This allows, per CDFA rules, for it to be registered as organic."

So my question is...Does the 'kill step' render the resulting compost sterile?  Would it kill all of the beneficial organisms that are needed?

Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experience.
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Location : Columbia Gorge, Washington

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Post  OhioGardener 2/9/2023, 12:21 pm

tappingmom wrote:Hello!

I'm Tammy and live in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, right smack between the states of Washington and Oregon. 

Welcome to the forums from Ohio!  Glad to have you here. You will find a lot of very friendly and helpful members here.

First, read Mel's All New Square Foot Gardening and decided to grow my produce via his methods.  I then purchased 6 Birdies Tall Garden Beds last year, filling the bottoms with stumps and local nursery soil.  Our winter rains have tamped down the volume, leaving me with about 12 inches to fill with Mel's Mix.

You will not want to be adding 12" of Mel's Mix to the beds, that will be very expensive.  Instead, partially fill the beds to within 7" of the top with something like topsoil, and then add 6" of MM on top of that. That will leave 1" of space to add mulch, etc.

E.B. Stone Organics makes a "composted chicken manure."
Here's the link: https://www.ebstone.org/product/chicken-manure/
It's listed under fertilizers, but it is described as a composted product, so I am assuming that it would be considered a compost.

No, composted manure is manure and not compost. You can use it in your mix, but limit it about 10% of the total volume.

I wrote the manufacturer and found out that it is made from flock bedding (wood shavings) and the actual chicken manure.  They said, "the chicken manure goes through a heated 'kill step' to kill any bacteria present.  This allows, per CDFA rules, for it to be registered as organic."

So my question is...Does the 'kill step' render the resulting compost sterile?  Would it kill all of the beneficial organisms that are needed?

No, it is not sterile.  It simply means that the compost heated to 160ºF, which killed all of the pathogens.  But, it is still good composted manure.

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Post  tappingmom 2/9/2023, 12:31 pm

"You will not want to be adding 12" of Mel's Mix to the beds, that will be very expensive."


That is great news!  I did read that only 6" was needed, but my overachieving nature thought more depth would be better.  Both my wallet and husband will be happy that I've cut my cost outlay in half.

"No, composted manure is manure and not compost. You can use it in your mix, but limit it about 10% of the total volume."


Well, there you go.  I just learned my second thing!  Back to my hunt for the ever-elusive chicken compost...

Thank you, OhioGardener!!
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Post  sanderson 2/9/2023, 9:50 pm

tappingmom wrote:Hello!

I'm Tammy and live in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, right smack between the states of Washington and Oregon.  I am a bit embarrassed to say that, at 63-years-old, I have never planted a garden.  But with my husband's support, I am ready to learn and make it happen!!
  Tmom, welcome to the Forum.  glad you\'re here I was 64 when I started my garden, my SFG garden.

First, read Mel's All New Square Foot Gardening and decided to grow my produce via his methods.  I then purchased 6 Birdies Tall Garden Beds last year, filling the bottoms with stumps and local nursery soil.  Our winter rains have tamped down the volume, leaving me with about 12 inches to fill with Mel's Mix.
Filling the lower depths with organic material such as stumps will mean the whole level of the bed will drop over time as the microbes break down that material.  I'm assuming that the nursery soil also contained some organic material.  The fact that you used stumps instead of twigs will buy you some time.  The SFG Foundation recommends inert material such as sand or top soil as a bottom fill.  If you leave the material in the bottoms of the beds, just be prepared to one day, one year, to have to add more Mel's Mix.  Maybe add a layer of weed fabric topped with 4-5" of washed sand or top soil (not garden soil) at this time, and then top with 6-7" of Mel's Mix.  You will be adding and mixing in more Blended compost each season you garden and you only want to add it to the MM layer to bring it back up to the original height.

As a newbie, I have so many questions about the 1/3 Compost part of the mix.  I am scouring this forum to try to have my questions answered, but still have many.  So I'll start with this and let you fine, intelligent folks educate me...
We all started as Newbies to the SFG method.

E.B. Stone Organics makes a "composted chicken manure."
Here's the link: https://www.ebstone.org/product/chicken-manure/
It's listed under fertilizers, but it is described as a composted product, so I am assuming that it would be considered a compost.

I wrote the manufacturer and found out that it is made from flock bedding (wood shavings) and the actual chicken manure.  They said, "the chicken manure goes through a heated 'kill step' to kill any bacteria present.  This allows, per CDFA rules, for it to be registered as organic."
If it is made from wood shavings and chicken manure, then it is a compost.

So my question is...Does the 'kill step' render the resulting compost sterile?  Would it kill all of the beneficial organisms that are needed?
The "kill step" is more than likely the hot composting method.  As the mounds of material start breaking down, the mesophilic microbes (68-104*F) go to spore and the thermophilic microbes (104-160*F) take over.  As the composting process starts to wind down and the pile cools, the mesophilic bacteria come back. "Teaming with Microbes" by Lowenfels and Lewis.

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